2010: The Year Email Took Off?

I’m getting a presentation ready for the Oxford Geek Night this Wednesday. I’m doing a keynote called “Take a Walk on the Happy Path”, which is based around the notion of lazy registration and other new interaction patterns that are making it easier to interact without having to register or log in. (BTW drop by if you’re around Oxford this Wednesday.)

One aspect is email. I’m seeing the email-driven interaction pattern get more and more popular. 2010 will be the year of many things, but I can see one thing being particular prominent in 2010: good ol’ email.

And having used Posterous a couple of months now, I can see why. Lots of unanticipated reasons to use it. e.g. I mail an answer to someone, but CC it to posterous so it goes on my public blog too. Or I flag some pics on iPhoto and email the lot in one go to Posterous so they appear on my Posterous blog and in my Flickr account, with requisite tweet if I like. Or I record an MP3 on my iphone (if only an app would actually do that) and send it to my Posterous blog – instant podcast!

It’s just old-fashioned email, but suddenly it got a whole lot more useful! The ubiquity of email has until recently been underutilised in a big way.

http://picwing.com is a new startup whose premise is mail them your photos for print. I can see other upstarts taking similar advantage of this pattern to build a competitive advantage, and combining it with Lazy Registration will help them take on the incumbents. And the incumbents will likely introduce the pattern to combat them, just as Dopplr introduced it after Tripit’s itinerary email procedure came along.

A few things worth noting:

  • It’s been done before by pioneers like Flickr, and probably much earlier than that. But now, we’re trying our luck with simple email addresses like [email protected] and [email protected] Not a secret email address with a password/PIN in it.
  • That could be a bad thing, as it’s possible to spoof the From: address. So security measures need to be in place and you can’t use it for anything too important. But most things aren’t. No need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as long as services are designed around the fact that identity fraud is a more likely possibility than normal. One good pattern is simply a confirmation reply by email.
  • It’s more than just an email to a simple address though, because posterous is using email as a command-line. e.g. [email protected] will go to flickr and twitter; [email protected] to everything that makes sense, and [email protected] only to my blog. Maybe sounds complicated to the unfamiliar, but pretty simple once you get used to it. And most people will only ever use and care about [email protected], so it’s all good.
  • The pattern extends more broadly than email, to encompass SMS interaction and interaction from specialised devices.

Oh. This would be a good time to officially announce my Posterous blog: mini.softwareas.com. Somewhere between my Twitter and this blog, it’s been a great avenue for expanding on things that can’t possibly be said in 140 characters, but don’t warrant the longer, slightly more formal writing (well, I use hyperlinks occasionally) you see here. I also use it as a general scrap book and a place to just drop content and data into, where each random bit collection gets a URL … a glorified pastebin. In fact, it’s changing the way I write here too, as I’m using less markup and less links overall. This blog post comes to you via email in fact, as it’s just easier and lets me write things where I otherwise wouldn’t bother. So maybe this blog will converge a bit with my Posterous blog.

Also, Twitter’s handling of historical data is pants. I laugh, I cry, I laugh, I cry every time someone says Twitter will crush Google, it’s the new search, when they can’t even search tweets from more than 2 weeks ago. Yes, I realise it’s all about real-time now, and searching last month is so, well, last month. But I want to use Twitter in a way that I can easily search back to things I’ve been doing and links I’ve been noting; and, as it stands, I can’t. So I’d much rather pump all my tweets through something that is properly searchable. I still do tweet directly at times, but mostly because it’s convenient from TweetDeck; as soon as there’s an equivalently good Twitter client that posts to posterous – or just sends tweets to an email address, hah! – I’m out.

3 thoughts on 2010: The Year Email Took Off?

  1. Pingback: I need to use posterous better – Is This Future Shock?

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